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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

14-Year Old Football Star Featured In Sports Illustrated Killed By Stray Bullet

Jaylon McKenzie

Jaylon McKenzie

Belleville, IL — Jaylon McKenzie, a 14-year old who aspired to be an NFL player, recently died after being hit by a stray bullet while leaving a party in Illinois. The young football star, who was named one of the “six teens who will rule the future in sports” by Sports Illustrated, has sadly been included in the growing statistics of gun death in the US.

McKenzie, an 8th grader at East St. Louis School District 189, reportedly went to a post-prom party the night of the shooting after he attended his school’s dance. When a fight broke out at the party, McKenzie decided to leave.

However, as McKenzie walked outside to leave the party, he was struck by a stray bullet. He and another 15-year old girl who was wounded were brought to a local hospital where McKenzie died shortly after. The girl has reportedly been in critical condition.

McKenzie’s mother, Sukeena Gunner, said her son doesn’t usually attend parties and would rather travel with their family for some football-related activity. That night, he decided to stop by at the party since he had more free time. But then, the shocking news came.

“It’s still like a bad dream,” Gunner told CNN. “Like I’m gonna wake up in the morning and my baby’s gonna be smiling at me asking for something to eat like he always does.”

Gunner was devastated with the sudden death of her son who could have had a bright future. Last year, McKenzie has caught national attention since he helped his team win the NFL’s 2018 8th Grade All-American Game wherein he caught five passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

The Sports Illustrated featured McKenzie in their Future Issue in November 2018 where he confirmed he has already received college offers from the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois. He also said he dreams of entering the professional football team Los Angeles Rams or Los Angeles Chargers one day.

Aside from his love for football, McKenzie was remembered by his mother as a soft-spoken person with a “beautiful smile.”

“He wasn’t a man of many words,” Gunner said. “He had a humbling personality. He wasn’t very outgoing, but everybody knew him and loved him.”

This year, over 4,700 gun deaths in America has already been recorded, according to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive. McKenzie became one of the more than 800 teenagers reportedly shot this year.

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